After all the large long-term, No trade clause contracts that Cubs Gm Jim Hendry has dished out in the past couple of years the Cubs don't have a whole lot of payroll flexibilty. The Cubs want to add a couple of things to improve the team, a centerfielder is the Cubs number one priority, a veteran right-handed setup for the bullpen, and improve the bench, with a second base upgrade at a distant 4th. The free agent options for centerfield aren't extremely optimal either in Marlon Byrd, Rick Ankiel, Scott Posednik and Reed Johnson.
Each one has there positives and flaws. Marlon Byrd wants a multi-year deal after putting up career numbers in texas where he showed he can't hit for power outside of texas's launching pad, and while wrigley is known as a hitters ballpark, it isn't a hitters ballpark in the beginning or end of the season in the colder temperatures or when the wind is blowing in, which happens a lot. With the Cubs poor road record from last year isn't that something we should want to improve anyways. Rick Ankiel by far has the most power out of the options for centerfield is left-handed, which would help balance the lineup and has a plus arm, he also has poor plate discipline,and is coming off a terrible season, and Boras is his agent and wants a mutli-year deal. Scott Posednik would be a good lead-off man is a lefty, has speed and is coming of solid season behind the plate. He wouldn't be an upgrade over Fukodome in centerfield and with soriano in left, we would have a terrible defensive outfield. Reed Johnson fan favorite good defense lefty killer and a .265 carreer average against righties. Injury prone, has back problems, hit terribly against righties last year and hasn't hit for much power against righties throughout his carreer. Is also reportedly talking with the Evil Empire New York Yankees according to Joel Sherman of the New York Post.
There have also been discussions of possible trade options for the cubs to acquire a centerfielder and this might be there best bet to find a difference maker in centerfield, Rajai Davis, and several other names have been mentioned. This all depends on what the other teams are asking for in return, and many of these names mentioned have there own question marks as well.
So who is Hendry going to get to play centerfield? In my opinion Hendry is just playing the waiting game waiting for asking prices to go down and years to go down and then it might be the guy who is willing to sign a one to two deal at the lowest asking price. I would sign Posednik on a one year 4 million dollar deal with a club option, Byrd one year at 5 million with a club option, Ankiel one year 5million with a club option (could be a great bargain) and throw in incentives for all three offers. After Coco Crisp got a one year 5 million dollar deal I don't think the cubs are going to be able to do much better in terms of salary for these guys, but the longer they go unsigned you have to believe their asking prices will go down. As far as Posednik it has been rumored that he was asking for a 3 year 12 million dollar deal. Byrd and Ankiel as far as salary I haven't heard any numbers but both are reportedly asking for atleast 2-3 year deals as well.
In my opinion, barring a trade, I think that the best bargain will win out for the cubs starting centerfielder job this year. Which given the choices available may be the best decision hendry will make this year and this deal won't be added to the other bad contracts that the cubs are stuck with longterm and each option does have their upsides. While I would prefer if that choice were Ankiel or Byrd for defensive reasons.
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